Experts and BHG readers answer.
Can you help me with a planting plan?
In temperate zones, tropical plants need to be raised in pots or grown as annuals; in the case of tender bulbs, you need to dig and store them each year. Without specifics of your yard’s size and layout, and lacking more details on your wants and needs, a planting plan for your specific site is difficult to come up with.
Consider consulting a local nursery or landscape professional for a plan that might include some of the following. Popular tropicals include caladium (Caladium bicolor), a tender bulb with showy foliage; bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia reginae), which produces flamboyant orange flowers; calla lily (Zantedeschia), a tender bulb that has elegant pink, white, red, orange, or yellow blooms; and elephant’s ear (Alocasia), a tender bulb with large leaves. Find these and a host of other plants at your local garden center.
Another alternative is to grow hardy plants that have a tropical look. Plume poppy (Macleaya cordata) bears large hand-shape foliage and is hardy in Zones 4-9. If you have a protected spot, you may be able to grow bear’s breeches (Acanthus mollis). Though it’s commonly listed as being hardy in Zones 7-10, I’ve been successful with it in Zones 4 and 5. Wild senna (Cassia marilandica) is another hardy perennial that has a tropical look. It grows in Zones 4-7.